Gundogan happy to be Man City’s next centre-half experiment as Fernandinho joins list of absentees

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Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Man City
The German midfielder does not expect to be asked to fill in at the back, but says he is prepared to do so if Pep Guardiola requires him to

Manchester City find themselves down to the bare bones when it comes to centre-halves, but Ilkay Gundogan is happy to be their next experiment if required.

Injuries have decimated Pep Guardiola’s defensive unit, with the likes of Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi picking up knocks.

Rodri and Fernandinho have helped to provide cover, but the latter has also been forced onto the treatment table and the former saw red during a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Stones and Otamendi have come back into contention, but Germany international midfielder Gundogan says he would be happy to slip into the back four if asked.

He told City’s official website after rounding off the scoring against Villa: “Fortunately, we still have Nicolas Otamendi, who was not able to come on because we had already changed three players.

“If I’m needed, I’m ready to help the team wherever. If I’m needed to play at centre-back for many games, I will try my best to help the team but I don’t think it’s that far yet.

“We’re unlucky at the moment and the red card doesn’t help but we’ll still have a great team on the pitch.”

City were frustrated for 45 minutes at the Etihad Stadium against Aston Villa, with Pep Guardiola conceding that they looked more like relegation strugglers than title challengers.

The in-form Raheem Sterling was, however, to break the deadlock inside seconds of the restart and Gundogan says City feel invincible when getting their noses in front.

He added: “We always feel when we’re able to score the first goal or an early goal, we feel like we are unstoppable.

“At half-time, the manager wanted us all to step forward. We created some chances in the first half but it was obvious there was something missing.

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“He mentioned that in the dressing room and it helped a lot that we scored within a minute and then went on to get the second as well.

“It was a bit about patience – we could have done better in the first half but the second half was really good.”

City have back-to-back games with Southampton coming up, in the Carabao Cup and Premier League, with the Saints heading into those fixtures on the back of a 9-0 drubbing by Leicester.